Development of the Outcomes Star™
The development of the Outcomes Star™ has been an iterative bottom-up process in which the tool has been tested, improved and re-tested a number of times. For a more theoretical description of the Star methodology and development process please see Joy MacKeith’s article in Housing Care and Support.
Here is a brief summary of the phases of development:
St Mungo's wanted a tool that would enable them to measure outcomes across all its projects. The St Mungo's Star consisted of seven ten point scales with descriptions of each point on the scale to help workers determine where to place service users on each outcome area, and a simple Star graphic. The St Mungos Star was purely a tool for measuring outcomes but work over the next two years with other homelessness organisations including Single Homeless Project, the Passage Day Centre and Thames Reach showed that the star concept had potential as a keywork tool.
Whilst the St Mungos Star was soley an outcome measurement tool, the Outcomes Star was developed to support as well as measure the process of change. In order to create the new tool the Ladder of Change was created and scales were completely re-written so as to be suitable for service users as well as workers. The Outcomes Star graphics were developed and a guide for keyworkers and a guide for managers were written.
The Outcomes Star was picked up in other sectors and it emerged that it had broad applicability. The Mental Health Providers Forum worked in collaboration with Triangle to develop a version tailored to the needs of mental health service providers and the Recovery Star was published in 2008. Around the same time Homeless Link took over the promotion of the homelessness version......morehide
During 2005-2006, Triangle worked with Rochdale Council (Supporting People Team) and ten Rochdale service providers in homelessness and mental health and developed a tool following similear principles to the Outcomes Star known as Rochdale Dial. Services participating in the development and testing of the Dial included a women’s refuge and project for teenage parents, leading to slight variations within the tool for these groups.
Through this work and contact from other projects nationally that were successfully using the Star with other client groups, the wide applicability of the Star model became apparent.
In 2007, the Mental Health Providers Forum commissioned Triangle to develop a version of the Outcomes Star™ for the mental health sector (called the Recovery Star). This was developed in partnership with nine mental health projects around the country from five different organisations in a process that involved managers, front-line workers and service users.
This work involved testing of the Star approach which showed that it worked well in the mental health sector but identified that further improvements were needed in the way that the journey of change was presented and in the supporting materials. The Recovery Star was published in 2008 with these improvements.
From May 2008, the publication and promotion of the Outcomes Star™ for the homelessness sector was handed over to Homeless Link. In October 2008 Homeless Link published a second edition of the homelessness version of the Outcomes Star™, with the tool itself unchanged but improved presentation and guidance drawing on learning from the Recovery Star.
St Mungos adoped the Outcomes Star and research carried out by Triangle with St Mungo's confirmed the usability and validity of the data from the Outcomes Star for learning and service improvement. A study of 25 organisations using the Star showed that using the Star also improved the quality of key-work..... morehide
In 2007, St Mungo's commissioned Triangle to analyse the Outcomes Star data for 120 service users from four of its hostels for homeless people. The resulting findings were tested against worker and manager perceptions. This study confirmed that the data produced by the Star demonstrated change in a meaningful way and revealed patterns in the progress made by different client groups which were confirmed by workers.
In 2008, St. Mungo's commissioned Triangle to carry out a second stage of research to delve deeper into the findings. This involved analysis of Star data for 50 clients over five hostels and qualitative interviews with the keyworkers and clients and found that looking at clusters of clients was a helpful way of revealing patterns of change to cross-reference with interventions, providing invaluable insight into the questions of what works, when and for who.
Also in 2008 Triangle carried out research on the impact and implementation of the Star with 20 organisations using the homelessness version of the Outcomes Star and five using the Rochdale Dial version. This research showed that all 25 organisations reported improvements in key-work with service users as a result of the Star and that, despite initial resistance from workers, both workers and service users found the Star to be a practical and useable tool.
Together these studies provided confirmation of the validity of the data and the usability of the tool in key-work.
New versions are developed for teenagers with drug and alcohol problems, people getting back to work and older people. Picture resources are developed for the Recovery Star and a brief version for day services.... morehide
In 2008-2009, Triangle worked in collaboration with other organisations to develop new versions of the Star for children and young people with drug and alcohol problems, for vulnerable people trying to get back to work and for older people. There are now 14 published version of the Outcomes Star and Triangle and its collaborators continue to develop the Outcomes Star and associated services to improve its usability and applicability across a wide range of clients and settings. This has included the development of the Star Online to support data recording and reporting, establishing Outcome Star services in Australia, Denmark, Canada, Finland, Italy, Holland and Germany, research into psychometric properties of the Star and offering a wider range of courses to support the implementation and use of the Star.